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TOPIC: ATC and towing weights

ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475638

  • Falkirkdan
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With caravans getting heavier with more equipment i find that my SKODA SUPERB 2.0 TDI CR 170 Elegance 4X4 will not be suitable for towing many caravans, even single axle caravans. The kerb weight is 1557 kg the Gross weight is 2196 kg and the max weight braked is 2000 kg. Certainly with 170 BHP there is sufficient power and the auto 4 wheel drive improves traction.
I am looking at a Swift caravan with MTPLM 1650 kg and MRO 1496 kg and has Alko ATC Stability system fitted. We will only be using as a couple so not lots of kids gear etc
I hold driving licence which is class BE.
Does having ATC fitted allow for greater towing weight as i assume the reason for the suggested is for caravan without ATC.
Your help urgently required before purchasing this van.
Danny
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475639

  • audiorob
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You might find this article interesting with regard to MRO and MTPLM.
swift-owners-club.com/support/payload-margins.html
Although you might be considering loading the caravan lightly to be less than the kerbweight of the car I think many seasoned caravanners would be surprised in how much 'personal effects' actually weigh!
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475643

  • ProfJohnL
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Falkirkdan wrote:
With caravans getting heavier with more equipment i find that my SKODA SUPERB 2.0 TDI CR 170 Elegance 4X4 will not be suitable for towing many caravans, even single axle caravans. The kerb weight is 1557 kg the Gross weight is 2196 kg and the max weight braked is 2000 kg. Certainly with 170 BHP there is sufficient power and the auto 4 wheel drive improves traction.
I am looking at a Swift caravan with MTPLM 1650 kg and MRO 1496 kg and has Alko ATC Stability system fitted. We will only be using as a couple so not lots of kids gear etc
I hold driving licence which is class BE.
Does having ATC fitted allow for greater towing weight as i assume the reason for the suggested is for caravan without ATC.
Your help urgently required before purchasing this van.
Danny

Hello Falkirkdan,

The history and creation of the industry towing ratio advice is shrouded in mystery. So I can't tell you exactly how the advice was derived, but by date it did precede the general availability of ATC or equivalent systems.

Prior to the introduction of ATC it was very important that caravanners did all they could to prevent the onset of instability, but occasionally even the most diligent of drivers might experience a problem when a range of conditions conspired to cause a problem, and ATC was created to try and help prevent these extreme conditions catching drivers out. ATC should not be used to manage a poorly matched outfit, it's in the same class as seat belts, Airbags and ABS - a safety net not general preventative.

The industry advice is widely criticised for not being realistic for not taking into consideration the new developments in cars and caravans, and whilst it suggests novice caravanners should not exceed 85%,(MTPLM/Kerbweight) and experienced should never exceed 100%, it is only advice, and has no legal force.

However, I do subscribe to the principle that it will be safer to keep the mass of any trailer as small as possible, and the tow vehicle as great as possible, but that is only part of the conundrum of maximising the safety margins of towing, other factors are the way the load is distributed and the nose load it creates, proper vehicle and trailer maintenance, good tyres at the correct pressure, Driver competence at appreciating road and weather conditions, and driving style.

So considering the cars 1557 kerbweight and the caravans MTPLM of 1650, it certainly exceeds the industries recommendations, and it's not a combination I'd advise even though it would be legal.
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475644

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Quote " Does having ATC fitted allow for greater towing weight "

The ATC is a dumb piece of equipment in as much as it does not matter what weight is being pulled, it only responds to sudden changes in direction, such as when entering a snake situation, in which case it applies the caravan brakes briefly to pull the van back into line.
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475645

  • Lutz
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Obviously fitment of ATC increases the safety margin, but its prime objective is not to increase towload limits. However, weight ratio issues aside for a moment, you already have a substantial margin between the MTPLM of the caravan and the maximum permissible towload of 2000kg which many caravanners on the Continent use to the full as there is no such thing as a weight ratio recommendation over there.
Besides, how confident are you with your quoted kerbweight of 1557kg? Have you weighed the car or are you relying on a published figure? If the latter applies, you may be in for a surprise. It probably weighs more than you think.
BMW X4 3.0d
Dethleffs Beduin 545V
Last Edit: 3 weeks 3 days ago by Lutz.
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 3 days ago #475647

  • otherclive
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In the Practical Caravan test of the 2014 Elegance model kerbweight was quoted as 1554 kg including 75 kg for the driver. The 4x4 sytem adds approximately another 80 kg to the vehicles kerbweight. Yours being L&K will weigh heavier given the additional kit. Mines a 170 ps DSG 4x4 with a V5 Mass in Service if 1656 kg. And I believe Mass in Service includes 75 kg for the driver.
Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDi SE CR 170ps DSG 4x4 carrying two Springers, Sprite Musketeer TD 2013.
Last Edit: 3 weeks 3 days ago by otherclive.
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 2 days ago #475652

  • Raywood
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You should not rely on ATC to allow you to tow at higher weights. It is a safety device like a stabiliser and is there to help if things look to be going wrong. It should never be used to increase the towing ratio and certainly at the weights you are suggesting it would be way out of its depth.
Sensible matching is the best bet, though I appreciate the problem having found myself getting more and more limited by lighter cars, your safety and that of your family is the most important point. From my dealings with motor accidents, any caravan loss of control claim I have come across has involved a dubious towing ratio.
Trying to load it lightly to a safe level looks impossible to me. You have only about 150 kg to play with and that is very little in real life. If you fit a mover you will lose about 30 kg of that which makes it borderline for most people to even stay under the MTPLM.
The ATC is a good idea, but in an emergency where it cannot cope, the caravan could easily take control of the car resulting in a disaster. given the weights you quote.
Ray
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 2 days ago #475653

  • Lutz
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otherclive wrote:
In the Practical Caravan test of the 2014 Elegance model kerbweight was quoted as 1554 kg including 75 kg for the driver. The 4x4 sytem adds approximately another 80 kg to the vehicles kerbweight. Yours being L&K will weigh heavier given the additional kit. Mines a 170 ps DSG 4x4 with a V5 Mass in Service if 1656 kg. And I believe Mass in Service includes 75 kg for the driver.

Mass in Service can be substantially lower than kerbweight although, by definition, kerbweight does not include the driver but Mass in Service does.
BMW X4 3.0d
Dethleffs Beduin 545V
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 2 days ago #475671

  • ProfJohnL
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Raywood wrote:
...The ATC is a good idea, but in an emergency where it cannot cope, the caravan could easily take control of the car resulting in a disaster. given the weights you quote.

I think Ray is painting the situation much blacker than it needs to be.

A caravan would have to vastly overloaded to render the ATC ineffective, but of course there could be other reasons why the ATC may not work, for example if its power line is not connected, or it it develops a fault. But all this falls into proper maintenance of both tow vehicle and trailer.

The weights you have quoted do exceed the industry advice, but that does not automatically make an outfit unsafe. I have towed several outfits where the trailer was substantially heavier than the tow vehicle (but always within the vehicles towed load limit) without issue, and I have found some outfits which were below 85% that were incredibly twitchy. So simply sticking to the weight ratio advice is no guarantee of a good tow. You have to bear in mind the other factors I listed previously. As Lutz points out there are no such advisory restrictions in many countries, and there aren't piles of smashed caravans littering foreign highways.

It's about being sensible. HIgh weight ratio's do erode any safety margins an outfit has.
Unless I use quotes, All advice and opinions given are my own and are given in good faith. Never act on anything you read on a forum unless you can validate and verify its source and content.
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ATC and towing weights 3 weeks 1 day ago #475676

  • Raywood
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I possibly look at things differently given I have dealt with the results of things going wrong. At the end of the day though, the ATC is a safety device and is there to reduce the chances of a loss of control and is not a substitute for getting the weights, loading etc. right.
I do accept that some outfits can behave better with a worse towing ratio than others that on paper look better. The problem is that you cannot be sure of this before you buy and it can only be when in an emergency situation you that you really find the answer. It is therefore foolish in my opinion to risk at the level proposed here. The ATC may mask a potentially serious problem and that should be appreciated.
Ray
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